As we did for City Council District 4, we are now quizzing the candidates for City Council District 6. District 6 includes Wallingford north of 50th (Tangletown), Green Lake, Fremont, Phinney and areas to the West. Mike O’Brien, who lives in Fremont and is currently on city council, is looking to hold onto his seat from challengers Catherine Weatbrook and Jon Lisbin.
I have asked the candidates to follow the comments for each post, so hopefully they will will engage with you if you have follow up questions!
The Question: Tangletown and Green Lake have been ignored by city government for years. There have been no neighborhood plan updates to Wallingford since 1998 and none for Green Lake since 1999, plus no regular candidate visits except during election cycles. The perception is that city government planning and investment has swung from a neighborhood driven model to an exclusively downtown driven model, and that the only way to influence government is to have downtown connections or be a crazy person that attends downtown planning meetings during the day.
The results appear in the form of virtually non-existent enforcement of property crimes in our area to weak DPD oversight of new developments to transportation planning with no neighborhood involvement. In terms of funding, District 6 is used as a piggy bank to fund mega projects like light rail stations in other districts, not even paying for infrastructure so our residents can walk or bike across I-5 to access that infrastructure. This has resulted in frustration with government to the point that voters overwhelmingly supported District Council Elections in the last election cycle, with about 2/3rds of the residents of District 6 voting in favor.
As our District 6 representative, how do you plan to change government so that it begins to be responsive to the needs of citizens in Tangletown and Green Lake? What regularly scheduled activities do you plan to engage in so people can be involved in plans for their neighborhoods?
Catherine Weatbrook‘s Answer: I voted for district representation because it’s time for the neighborhoods to be heard and get their fair share of the attention and participation in planning. I plan on holding regular community meetings, including forums and working sessions on specific issues, in our neighborhoods. Every neighborhood is feeling disconnected from city hall, and I want to change that by bringing city hall to you. I hope to move more city council committee meetings into the neighborhoods. We need to get back to the idea of neighborhood plans and neighborhood-specific solutions instead of our current one-size-fits-all centralized planning solutions.
Our city needs to be more responsive. The north end has seen a 35% increase in violent crimes in the first four months of this year and we need to address this with additional policing, and reducing opportunities for crime now, not when it gets even worse.
Jon Lisbin‘s Answer: First of all, it’s an exciting time because voters have recognized the need district representation and change. That is why I am running, to represent the unique needs of our district.
Seattle is the fastest growing major city in the country. We need expanded transit, smaller class sizes, affordable housing, improved social services, police, fire, utility and infrastructure improvements. That’s going to take a much more responsive, efficient and better funded government.
We have been suffering from diminishing per household revenues primarily because property tax increases are capped at 1%. That’s a losing game when inflation has averaged 2.5% per year over the past 10 years. The city’s only choice is to go the property tax levy well again and again and is incented to meet its short term budget goals, through increased development, at the expense of long term deficits. We need tax reform at the state and local level and we need developer impact fees to increase and diversify city revenues.
As an entrepreneur, someone who has built a rapidly growing profitable venture for each of the past 13 years, those will be the areas I will focus on. For improving the lines of communication, I plan to establish a district office and shift the center of gravity of city government. This will ensure that I am in touch with the pulse of our community.
Mike O’Brien‘s Answer: As a councilmember representing the whole city, I have worked hard to make myself available to seeing people from all parts of the city taking meetings at city hall and attending meetings and events in the community. If I have the good fortune to get elected to represent the people of district 6, I will take a similar approach concentrated on the neighborhoods of district 6. As a resident of Fremont I spend a significant amount of time in the Tangletown and Green Lake neighborhoods. I look forward to coordinating with any group or resident who would like me to attend events or meet with them.
Note: Stan Shaufler is also running for the seat in theory but has no contact information on the city registration Web site and has no Web presence, so he is not part of this questionaire or poll.